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The Man Whose Dream Has Just Begun

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The Man Whose Dream Has Just Begun


EricHis lanky frame does not give him away easily as a man with a unique idea in this technology-driven 21st century as he walks into his office that Friday morning. He turns in his swivel chair for a few seconds as the tape, placed in between us, starts to spur.

He simply describes himself as a guy that is passionate about creating innovative products and services to make Africa more efficient. But I think the most important question is: Who will Eric Idiahi be, long after he is gone?

Idiahi is the managing director ofSpinlet, a lifestyle company that offers music service for finding, downloading, and sharing the best of new local and international music with friends. Spinlet was informed by a need to make a positive impact and change in the music industry in Africa, he tells me.

“Traditionally, when one wants to download songs onto their phones, they search for links to websites where they can download, but this is illegal sharing and due to this, the artistes have no way of monitoring how much content he is sharing and therefore no way to monetise this content.” And so, Spinlet came into Africa to fill this gap by providing a central, convenient and easily accessible platform for music lovers to get latest music, share playlists with one another and at the same time gain revenue for the artistes’ hard work.

Spinlet was launched officially in Nigeria on May 23, 2012, but was founded in 2006 in Finland. As a lover of music, Idiahi readily finds his passion playing out in his chosen field. “Music has always been one of my passions,” he says frankly. “In 2007, I remember discussing with two close friends who owned music labels. I had all these grand ideas of how they can expand their business and make more money. Every time I suggested something, I would get the same response: ‘Fix distribution and we will be ok.’”

Idiahi has just mentioned a key challenge facing the Nigerian music industry – distribution. Many artistes in the country have been short-changed by the poor distribution network. Pirates have been having a field day reaping where they have not sown. “There are many established and upcoming artistes in the country,” he says. “Initially, there was no central way of distribution that was beneficial to the artistes. So, we set out to establish Spinlet for the African music industry.”

Even as he is working out a perfect distribution network, Idiahi has another hurdle to cross – copyright – which he says is work in progress. Currently, he has some top record labels and individual artistes in Nigeria signed on to the platform.

In addition, he also has various independent artistes signed on including old school highlife legends like he late Stephen Osita Osadebe, Victor Uwaifo, Victor Olaiya, among others. “We intend to expand the list,” explains Idiahi. “We are planning on expanding and having international artistes on the platform from deals with EMI, Universal, etc. Also, we are getting artistes signed from Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, etc. We intend to have a broad catalogue with local music, music from sub-Sahara Africa, and international music.”

Now, Spinlet focuses on an impeccable consumer experience and it has a diverse catalogue – there is something for everyone. “There is also ease of access to songs as consumers can download songs directly to their mobile phone,” he states further. “Spinlet is conceiving, designing and bringing a rich portfolio of exceptional and unique music experience that flows one from another, which creates a unique consumer experience.

“Spinlet is also a social networking tool as our users can create a profile and share playlist with friends; this truly unites music lovers. The application’s Music Player organises all songs that are found on the user’s mobile phone, in an orderly fashion; and through our partnership with Gracenote, they identify the music and deliver Artist, Album, Song Information and Cover Art, which makes finding songs easier for users.”

With Spinlet, the consumer experience with music is now enjoyable. Consumers can have access to a constant updated list of new singles and albums.

“The service is free and not free,” he discloses. “Songs can be streamed for free, supported with advertising, but the Songs on Spinlet are charged at less than street price and can be bought conveniently with mobile credit. We are also working on more payment options such as credit card.

“Spinlet has been received positively and people understand what we are doing in the music industry, although we have received some constructive criticisms that we listened to and adjusted accordingly in order to perfect the platform. Spinlet will provide enhanced marketing effectiveness always by designing and integrating an experiential environment via the architecture and ambiance that invite a sense of participation and a sense of membership from our music audience.”

Spinlet has signed a non-exclusive deal with record labels to sell their songs on its platform. The revenue is split in favour of the artiste and label on any sales made. “At Spinlet, we are genuinely interested in artist growth, both locally and internationally.

“So, in addition to selling of their music on the platform, we also give various opportunities for maximum publicity based on local and international relationships we have formed with various entities. Some of them are Industry Nite, which takes place every Wednesday and allows artistes to perform to a large audience at no extra cost to them; Gospel Night Live, which is a live performance of gospel artistes; and Felabration, a series of occasions that are held in memory of Fela.

“We also include Nigerian artistes in international music show cases such as Midem, which takes place in Cannes, and SXSW, which is the largest music showcase in the world and holds in Texas. We send artistes there to perform to the worldwide audience at no cost to them.”

As an online platform, Spinlet aimsto be a diverse platform with genres of music to suit all music lovers, be it reggae, gospel, R&B, hip hop, and others.

“Our platform allows the sharing of music. You can share and enjoy music from Spinlet with friends by connecting their phones to speakers/car stereos to play out loud. But our songs are DRM protected in order to prevent piracy through transfers from one party to another. So, all songs downloaded from Spinlet can only be stored within the application.

“Our major issue has been having well over 10,000 people trying to use the application at once (with the EME album released exclusively). This caused a bit of congestion, which led to a few issues with downloading tracks, but this was fixed and the experience of using the application is a lot smoother now. We constantly seek feedback from our users via social networks and we are swift to fix these issues,” Idiahi concludes.

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